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The Lions follow Audra Wilmes and Shealyn Cecil to a sweep of the Pacers on Thursday.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn freshman Olivia Doel celebrates one of her two late aces during the Lions' 3-0 win over Lakeridge on Thursday, March 11, at West Linn High School.The Lions hammered away.

The Pacers defended as if their lives depended on it.

In the end, the West Linn volleyball team used its depth and strength to beat Lakeridge 25-12, 25-15, 25-11 at West Linn High School on Thursday, March 11.

In the process, the Lions continued to prove themselves as one of the state's best teams — in 2019, West Linn won the Three Rivers League and finished fifth at the Class 6A state tournament — and remained unbeaten in 2021.

"I think we did a good job communicating and just playing together overall and taking care of our side of the net," said West Linn senior outside Audra Wilmes, a University of Washington commit and unanimous first-team all-Class 6A state tournament selection in 2019 who led her team in hitting Thursday. "We definitely, over time, started speeding up and taking care of our side of the net."

"Tonight, I think we did … a good job playing together as a team," added junior setter Shealyn Cecil, who had eight aces in the match. "I think that's something we definitely struggled with in our (five-set win over Canby on) Tuesday, but I think we pulled it out well tonight."

With the win, the Lions improved to 4-0 in TRL play and 4-0 overall, while the Pacers fell to 2-3 in league and 2-3 overall.

Despite their loss, Lakeridge's players were happy with how well they competed against talented West Linn.

"I think we really picked up our energy after the first game," said Lakeridge senior middle blocker Kendall Baldwin, her team's leading hitter with eight kills against the Lions. "We started a little bit slow, but we came back at the end."

"Definitely, we made some adjustments," added sophomore outside hitter Niyah Coleman. "There's a couple of really good hitters on that team, so yeah, we had to figure out where to stand and how to get the better angle on the ball."

West Linn def. Lakeridge 3-0

West Linn started quickly against Lakeridge, grabbing an early 6-1 lead in the first set when senior Sydney Marshall made a kill down the right sideline, but the Pacers rallied to within 7-5 on four Lions errors and a Baldwin kill off the block.

Undeterred, West Linn raced ahead to lead 15-5 on three Wilmes kills and three aces from Cecil. Lakeridge got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, with Lion junior Emily Warmenhoven adding a pair of late aces in her team's 25-12 win.

The second set was the closest of the night, with the Pacers up three points early and down just 15-11 on a Coleman ace mid-game. Lakeridge was still within 21-15 when a Wilmes attack missed wide, but West Linn senior Lily Roms notched back-to-back kills to fuel her team's late four-point run and 25-15 victory.

"We carried the momentum (from the first set) into the second set, which was really great to see," Baldwin said. "Everyone was getting a lot more aggressive with the ball."

The Lions, however, were in no mood to be challenged on their home court, putting together a dynamite third set to close out the night. After the Pacers pulled within 15-10 on a Lion hitting error, West Linn caught fire and scored 10 of the match's final 11 points to win 25-11.

In the final set, Wilmes notched five kills, junior Emily Warmenhoven added four kills and an ace and Cecil served four straight aces late before giving way to freshman Olivia Doel for another two aces in the runaway win.

"We spent a lot of time in the gym working together and getting better at playing together as a team with our new members," Cecil said. "So I think … (that) two weeks in, we're getting better."

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